• Review Date: September 9, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Common Sense Media says

All-star virus thriller is intense, uncompromising.
  • Review Date: September 9, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 105 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

A deadly contagion is a challenging, deadly opponent, but humanity ultimately triumphs through perseverance and compassion. It may not be exactly how hard science works, but it's an admirable takeaway. (Also, wash your hands!)

Positive role models

Though some characters react poorly under pressure (looting and holding others hostage), many others are selfless, protective, and willing to put others first in the name of service and love.


Citizens loot and hurt others out of fear and panic; patients die frothing at the mouth. A gory autopsy is shown, with a scalp being pulled back.


A near-kiss between two teens. Discussions of one woman's philandering.


Infrequent use of words like "s--t," "ass," "hell," and "oh my God." Also one "f--k."


Many label mentions/appearances: Taco Bell, StarKist, Purell, Sbarro, Rayovac, Audi, Dasani.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking at a bar and casino.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this grim thriller about the spread of a deadly, fast-acting global virus helmed by Oscar-winner director Steven Soderbergh and populated by an all-star cast (including Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, among many others), may be too intense and/or overwhelming for younger kids given its stark, uncompromising depictions of death and the somber, sometimes scary exploration of what it's like to live in a constant state of fear. Expect disturbing imagery (including a gory autopsy) and mature themes, such as death (in one case, of a child) and infidelity. There's also some swearing (including "s--t") and social drinking.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), a married Minneapolis executive, flies to Hong Kong on business. Upon her return, she's gripped with flu-like symptoms, has a seizure in her kitchen, and dies. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), is in shock. Meantime, the Center for Disease Control is flooded with calls from around the country -- and the globe; whatever killed Beth is killing plenty of other people, too. Meanwhile, a blogger (Jude Law) is convinced of a government conspiracy and hypes an alternative remedy, while others are up in arms and start looting. It's up to Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) and his investigators (including Kate Winslet), as well as other scientists and doctors around the world, to identify the agent and find a cure before the planet loses millions more citizens.




Is it any good?


With a stellar cast, a gripping pace, and a subject matter as hard to shake as the virus that spreads through its story, CONTAGION is a winner. (When your first instinct after seeing the movie is to attempt not to touch anything on your way home and to wash your hands thoroughly, you know it hit its marks.) Though some cast members have more camera time than others -- Damon, for instance, who's first rate, and Fishburne, in a meaty, satisfying role -- the film is a masterful ensemble piece in which no one hogs the spotlight.


Given the subject matter, it's surprising how Contagion doesn't unfold like a hospital-based TV drama. Jargon pops up in seemingly organic and very necessary moments; it's explained well, too. Emotional moments are used selectively, grounding the film in humanity without becoming maudlin (or manipulative). An Internet subplot hovers dangerously close to excess, but manages to pull away from the brink. All in all, it's a Soderbergh win.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this film scary and/or intense. Is it the tone? The subject matter? Are you scared that something like this could really happen?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about any fears the movie raises. For tips, try this article.

  • How does the movie portray the Internet as a source of information regarding disease and health?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 9, 2011
DVD release date:January 3, 2012
Cast:Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon
Director:Steven Soderbergh
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:disturbing content and some language

This review of Contagion was written by

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byMovieReviewGuy September 9, 2011

Good for 14+, Disturbing Content may scare younger viewers

(Suggested MPAA Rating:) Rated PG-13 for Disturbing Content and Some Language Parents should know two things: This movie has a lot of disturbing content; a deadly virus spreads quickly, unexpectedly attacking the human race and quickly killing people, putting the whole world, and everyone else, as quarantine and highly dangerous. It spreads quickly and easily kills lots of people. The concept that this could very well happen brings a scary, apocalyptic reality into the plot of the movie. Note there is also a mildly gorey autopsy. There is also some language, as indicated by the MPAA's suggested rating. Many uses of sh-t, and lots of uses of -ss, h-ll, d-mn, and one use of f--k. Side Note: there is some violence and crime as citizens rob eachother of supplis in order to keep safe and stay alive. This is present as the virus smashes civilizations worldwide. Also, there are many brave people who put other's lives before theirs and sacrifice themselves/put themselves at risk so others could survive the virus and have enough time to find a cure. Good for ages 14+
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old September 12, 2011


Not violence. However, I'm 12 and I was pretty darn scared, but not scared enough to leave the movie, almost, but not quite. My little 9 year old sister went, too and I was VERY surprised she lasted through the whole thing. I couldn't watch the otopsy. Incase you don't know what that is, this girl died from the disease and they needed to see if it had something to do with her skin and see how she died, so they literally cut into her brain and peeled her face skin off. It was disgusting and very graphic!! Watch out for lots of the parts in this movie!! It is for mature 11 year olds at the least! Be responsible, parents and think about if your kid would want to see this movie! Just because you may wanna see it, the kids are younger than you and may not understand the point and get scared and who would wanna scare their own kid?? This really is a movie I would reccomend seeing before your kid unless you're at least 13, but hey, I'm not a parent and don't wanna be for a while! ;-) Anyway, hope this helped and good luck!!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Kid, 12 years old February 5, 2012

A lot of Gory Stuff...

I loved this movie. (I have seen one other very gory scary movie, The Crazies, that I DO NOT recommend under ANY circumstances for kids under 14 so in comparison Contagion is good) The scariest parts are when, in the beginning, Gwenyth Paltrow's character has a seizure and dies (this is the picture of her with the big eyes on the cover of the movie), there are pictures of the dead/dying people that are a little scary (especially Matt Damon's son), and when Gwenyth Paltrow's character has an autopsy. In this scene, there is a close-up of her face that is a bit creepy (tell your kids to turn away from the movie now) and the doctors peel her skin back a little so the inside of her head is over her eyes!! I was grossed out! (may I remind you this is in comparison to the first pitchfork scene and the first morgue scene in The Crazies- look it up) And then they look at what is implied as her brain and a bit of fake blood squirts on to the doctor's mask. The worst language part is when someone is waiting in line for medicine and someone coughs behind her. She says "could you mind not coughing?" and he responds with a barely-there "f--k off, lady." There are other mentions of swears, but most kids my age know them and not to use them. I thought this movie would make me wash my hands more, but it has not made a huge difference. But if you are a germaphobe, I would not see it. Though, kids under 12 may not understand some legal/government parts of it, and you may have to explain it to them.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing


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